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Clayton firefighters train using donated house

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County Firefighter Paul Palmer, 23, of Griffin said he has dreamed of being a firefighter since childhood.

"You know, every little boy wants to be a firefighter," said Palmer.

"Then when I got of age, and talked it over with my wife, she thought it would be a good idea. It was a family decision. I decided to pursue it, and I'm glad I got on with Clayton County," he said.

Palmer has been a Clayton County firefighter since July, and is based at fire station No. 13, in Jonesboro.

He was one of about 30 Clayton County firefighters, from rookies to veterans, who participated in a training session Thursday that involved setting fire to, and eventually burning down, a Jonesboro home, located at 2170 Emerald Drive near Lake Spivey.

"What this does is it gives them a chance to take their time and actually watch the fire develop and understand how it's going to move, how fast it's going go, and gives them a chance to experience the heat in a controlled environment," said Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Battalion Chief Landry Merkison.

The home was donated by Jason Cash, owner of Orion Restoration, in Stockbridge. The company needed to remove the home to build a new one on the site, and decided to donate the home for fire department training purposes.

"It saves money on hauling off debris. It's a neat experience to do it," said Cash, who watched as firefighters conducted training exercises in the home Thursday.

Merkison said the fire department is looking for another home to be donated.

"We've been offered the opportunity to host a portion of the state's arson class, which trains arson investigators from all over the state. So we're looking for another structure that we can secure, that we can use in that state arson class," said Merkison.

Merkison said fire officials are seeking donations of single-family homes that do not currently have a mortgage. The home must also be a sound structure.

Anyone wishing to donate a home should contact Capt. Rich Elliott at (770) 473-7833.